Popes Roncalli to Francis wicked? Andrea Tornielli, in Vatican insider, Sept. 3rd 2018
An interview with the dogmatic theologian Antonio Levi confirms that many critics of current pontificate are in fact critics of the entire post-conciliar Church and its Popes, from Roncalli to Bergoglio
Monsignor Antonio Livi
Note: Roncalli to Francis wicked? Heretics? I am simply driven to desperation to exclaim: “Behold the Man! Behold the Pope’s precarious situation: Caught between the devil and the deep sea!”
I had the fortune, good or bad, of studying in Rome, to see Roncalli, fondly called by Vox Populi, “Good Pope John” buried while there and see his successor Paul VI enthroned and get a photo taken with him on parting from St. Peter’s college. Roncalli started the ‘aggiornamento’ of opening the windows, Vatican 2nd, to get fresh breeze in, to sweep clean the dust away, yes the dust ‘accumulated on the throne of Peter’ (Roncalli’s own words). Now have I to say he was a wicked heretic? Oh Tempora! Oh mores!!
“Heresy in Power?” I admit, possible! To capture power through hook or crook, is Heresy! Did Good Pope John, Paul VI, John Paul 2nd, Benedict, and now Francis, do anything crooked to capture Papal Throne? No proof in my hands! Nor capable of crossing swords with the Pontifical Lateran university professor, Mgr. Antonio Levi. Francis’ election, says Levi, was orchestrated by a group of theologians of St. Gallen”; yes I have heard and read it.
May be the Dogmatic theologian writing below and seen above in the picture is right, and the dull dogmatic theologian in me could be wrong! This ‘Know-nothing’ confess, ‘I don’t know! Lord make me see! I am more blind than ‘Bar Thimeus’, I pray. Levi’s public criticism, is proof that the emergence of this deeper and more radical fringe of dissent was simultaneous with Good Pope John’s opening of the Vatican 2nd with the “medicine of mercy” as the only remedy, which Francis uses generously now to lead his church to his prodigal Father whose name is “Mercy personified”.
If Ratsinger (Benedict xvi) was the only one among the last five conclaves, elected by the Holy Spirit, why he felt incapable and resign? The Spirit made a mistake?
Critiques – a Leagion
Theologian levi is in the company of a big battalion: the ‘Dubia’ group of cardinals, other theologians, traditionalists, Bannon (friend of Trump once) group of politicians, laity group of professors and their publications, too many to name here.
This is just to let all realize that this pitiable predicament has not come like a bolt from the blue, for Pope Francis. It has been in the making right from the start of his pontificate. If you the general public has been kept in the dark, it is because of the so-called Catholic press in the country which are all the “Master’s Voice” of bishops who own them and dare not publish anything displeasing to them.
The die hard conservatives and progressives in the Church are in mortal conflict as in any human political parties. There is nothing divine in it, a human institution: like the leader, so the followers. To make Christians ideal communities for the world, they should first stop being Christian and start being just Human, civilized humane beings following ideal crazy Nazareen whom all divided churches claim to follow, but none does, except perhaps Pope Francis, whom both believers and unbelievers look up to.
Time was, when the Church thought, it’s mission was: first to domesticate the wild rogue in the jungles; then rationalize it, then humanze, then civilicize and finally Christianize! Half in joke, halr in taunt and earnest, some used to refer to the US president who showered bombs on Iraq as the ‘civilized’ or ‘christianized’ “Bush-man” of modern times. Our Manmohan Singh, instead saw him as the President whom, people in India ‘loved’.
Church’s mission instead is to be a leaven in the dough, salt in the earth, for hidden internal transformation, working as an ordinary among ordinary people, not with a capital “O” as the extra ordinary with pomp and public display of Red habits and Red hats as the showy Episcopal battalions do, at whose sight the teen agers shout “here come the buffoons on stage” (credit to Bishop Alex Dias of Port Blare who wanted to be called just ‘Alex’ his pet name). CCV has summarized all these fine points in the phrase: CATTLE CLASS of Jesus with no Church affiliation, but glued tight to the Miserabile, the poveri Yahweh, described in the Nazareth manifesto: “to preach the good news to the poor”etc.
Only Christian, dead, gone!
As Frederic Nietzsche said: there was only one Christian in the world and he died on the cross. As substitutes what we have are Francis of Assisi, called the Second Christ and Kabir the weaver of Varnasi, called the Christ of the East. Jesus a carpenter and Kabir a weaver were both illiterates, had no known Father but endeared themselves to all of humanity. Tagore helped popularize Kabir by translating many of his poems into English. For Vivekananda, Jesus was the visible image of the invisible God. We know mighty little about his early education, except he grew in wisdom and age after playing truant at 12.
What we humans, supposed to be rational, have to do is very simple, just to follow the light of reason in all of us, flaming as “Sathyagraha” of Gandiji, that burning flame to discover truth, the Whole Truth, which we may call the spark of God in all of us. A common endeavour to find the Whole truth alone can keep us together as one family of sisters and brothers of love and care, in this divided world, where each faction is fighting today for power, pelf and position to dominate, to rule, instead of loving and serving. Let this Sathyagraha(burning desire for truth), that divine spark in all of us, which none can deny, liberate us all. james kottoor, editor ccv.
Please read below theologian Antonio Levi of Pontifical Lateran Uni-versity & his no-holes-barred critique of Popes in, Vatican Insider!
VATICAN CITY: “For more than fifty years heretical, evil theologians have tried to conquer power, and now they have succeeded. That is why I speak of heresy in power”. Monsignor Antonio Livi, a dogmatic theologian at the Pontifical Lateran University, signatory of the “correctio filialis” addressed to Pope Francis, must be acknowledged for knowing how to speak clearly. The video interview granted in Italian on 2 May 2018 to the magazine “The Wanderer” was transcribed and published in the “Courrier de Rome” n° 611 of June 2018. It is a noteworthy interview, in which the theologian calls himself “persecuted” (Catholic bookshops do not sell the magazine he directs) because it allows us to understand the nature of the deepest criticisms of the current pontificate and reveals once again how they originate from a shared critique of all the Popes of the Council and of the post-conciliar period.
The interpretative skirmishes on Amoris laetitia or on the dubious affirmations attributed to Francis by some illustrious interviewer give the pace of what is going on, making room for the emergence of a deeper and more radical fringe of dissent, which calls into question Vatican II and all the successors of Peter who have called it, led it, carried it out and applied it.
In the first two answers of the interview, Livi speaks about the election of Francis defining it as “orchestrated”. To the question of why the Pope does not realize that his pastoral work “leads to a dying Church”, the theologian answers: “Because he was elected precisely for this reason. He (Francis) himself said: “My brother cardinals have elected me to take care of the poor and to carry out the reform”. In fact, it was the group of theologians of St. Gallen, Switzerland, Godfried Danneels, Walter Kasper and others, who – already on the occasion of Benedict XVI’s election – thought that the Pope who could advance reform in the Church, in the Lutheran sense of the term, could be Bergoglio”. According to Livi, Bergoglio would like “a Church without priesthood, a Church without magisterium, a Church without dogmas, a Church without an official interpretation of Sacred Scripture, left in the hands of people who interpret it according to the presumed spirit, that it suggests to them”.
So Livi, about the conclave, says he is “absolutely sure” that the election of Francis was “orchestrated”. For the monsignor “it is an historical certainty. Historical certainties have always been based on testimonies” and on the fact that “no one has put forward a different argument”. “If I think of Cardinal Kasper who was already heretical and wished to destroy the Holy Mass, marriage, communion and canon law, and how now the Pope says that he is his theologian par excellence and makes him organize the Synod for the family, I say to myself: something has been totally orchestrated”. And again: “You understand that this is a very well-orchestrated plan, which has not started today, but since the beginning of the sixties. For more than fifty years heretical, evil theologians have tried to gain power, and now they have succeeded. That is why I am talking about heresy in power. It is not the popes who are heretics; I have never said this of any Pope. The Popes have suffered this influence and have not opposed it. They followed John XXIII’s crazy idea who said: “Let us affirm the doctrine of all time, but without condemning anyone”. This is impossible; condemnation is part of the explanation of dogma”.
Leaving aside the accusation of heresy towards Walter Kasper, pronounced with iron certainty by Livi (we shall remember that Kasper is a bishop and a cardinal of the Holy Roman Church, elected and created by Saint John Paul II who maintained his position with Benedict XVI and that his writings were never the object of public censorship by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), the certainty about the “orchestrated” conclave appears very weak from the historical point of view. What does it mean to “orchestrate” an election? That there are cardinals who speak among themselves about who they consider the best candidate, as always happened before and during every pontifical election? For centuries, the Church has established that the Pope cannot be elected from one side, but that a majority of two thirds of the votes is always necessary.
A look at the history of the last century shows how four papal elections took place in just 24 hours, therefore considerably fast and with the consent of the overwhelming majority of voters around a candidate. The most rapid conclaves of the last hundred years were those of Pius XII (1939), John Paul I (1978), Benedict XVI (2005) and Francis (2013): shall they be considered “orchestrated”, given their surprising rapidity?
If the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio is to be considered “orchestrated” because a small group of cardinals decided to focus on him before the doors of the Sistine Chapel closed, the same must be said – at the very least – for all the previous lightning-fast conclaves. Unless one thinks that in 2005, for example, the cardinals gathered without ever having exchanged ideas with each other and suddenly, instigated by the Holy Spirit, more than two thirds of them wrote “Joseph Ratzinger” on the card.
On the subject of “heresy in power”, Monsignor Livi specifies: “I refer not to people who formally profess heresy, because if it were ecclesiastical authorities they would all be excommunicated and lose their role, but to heresies who are professed formally and insistently by theologians who had much power at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, thanks to or because of John XXIII, and then in the post-conciliar period, for all the popes continued to treat these heretical theologians with respect. Some of them, like Benedict XVI, both as Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith and as Pope, maintained an Orthodox and pious position in adoration of God and respect for the sacredness of the Incarnation, but in the end, they too were effectively united with these heretical theologians. When Benedict XVI, as Pope, speaks of Karl Rahner, he simply says that both agreed to help the bishops lead the Council towards a certain direction, a horrible direction, and only later did they separate only by certain disagreements”. It won’t go unnoticed that according to Livi, from Pope John to Pope Ratzinger, all the Popes share “heretical” theologians.
The former theologian teacher of the Lateran criticizes Benedict XVI as follows: “I am an expert in logic and I can only examine a proposition, a method, and in this I say things that are absolutely true and indisputable. When I criticize the heresy tendencies of Benedict XVI, I do not ignore that he is a saint and that he has done many good things in pastoral work for the Church and that he has always had good intentions. But this does not detract from the fact that he has always shown sympathy for neo-modernism, which basically consists of two things: ignoring metaphysics and wanting to explain dogma with hermeneutical criteria based on existentialism and phenomenology. Pope Ratzinger sympathetic with neo-modernism, he too would fail to defend the dogma.
For Livi “since after John XXIII, the idea has been that the pastoral ministry of the Church consists in translating dogma into an understandable language, acceptable to modern man – which is a myth, a fantasy – and in finding good even in the theoretical positions most contrary to dogma. I believe that this is a pastoral ministry which, as such, is erroneous and harmful to the Church”. The theologian adds that he does not consider Joseph Ratzinger’s theology a “way out of the crisis of the Church”, “because of what I have already said. Already in the “Introduction to Christianity”, he demonstrated a Catholic culture under the influence of Protestant culture, and in theology he already acted on the basis of the choice to fight neo-Thomism and Neo-Scholasticism, with their preambula fidei and natural theology”.
According to Livi, Benedict XVI “produced documents that derive more from theology than from the Magisterium. If we do theology and put our work on the same level as that of theologians, we no longer do the Magisterium, which consists in proposing the dogma again and explaining it. His encyclicals are 90% pure theology”.
The dogmatic theologian also criticizes Pope Ratzinger’s invitation to the non-believers, so that they may live “as if God existed”. “With the greatest respect for Cardinal Ratzinger – who later repeated the same thing as Pope – it is nonsense. The existence of God cannot be presented to men as if it were a hypothesis. This is just fideism”.
Precisely this point allows Livi to express his thought on a crucial question: “those who admit the hypothesis – both the Pope and the atheists – denies a truth knowing that it is a truth. No one can convince me that there is really someone who, apodictically, denies the existence of God. In France, in the 1960s, Étienne Gilson, my teacher, wrote a book, L’Athéisme difficile, in which he affirmed that it is impossible for a philosopher to affirm that God does not exist. The source of world philosophy, which comes from Greece, starts from the assumption that God exists”. For the former Lateran professor, “thinking that modern man is atheist is false, it seems to me. Every man has the certainty that God exists, on the basis of common sense”. And here lies the origin of the harsh criticism towards the post-conciliar Church that unites Livi to other exponents of the so-called traditionalist world: the abandonment of Neo-Scholasticism, thanks to which – the theologian seems to want to affirm – it could by “proved” to anyone that God exists thanks to reasoning, because “for a philosopher”, as the interviewee himself is, “it is impossible to affirm that God does not exist”.
Livi seems not to want to understand that what he hastily described as “neo-modernism”, grouping theologians and Popes in a single bundle, represents instead an attempt to answer the dramatic question of how the Gospel is announced in a society that begins to live as if God did not exist. It is this question that lies at the basis of the Council, of the updating wanted by John XXIII, of the intense dialogue with the world wanted by Paul VI and continued by his successors. As Benedict XVI stated in his speech to the bishops of Portugal (Fatima, 13 May 2010): “when, in the view of many people, the Catholic faith is no longer the common patrimony of society and, often, seen as seed threatened and obscured by the “gods” and masters of this world, only with great difficulty can the faith touch the hearts of people by means simple speeches or moral appeals, and even less by a general appeal to Christian values.
The courageous and integral appeal to principles is essential and indispensable; yet simply proclaiming the message does not penetrate to the depths of people’s hearts, it does not touch their freedom, it does not change their lives. What attracts is, above all, the encounter with believing persons who, through their faith, draw others to the grace of Christ by bearing witness to him”. Philosophical reasoning and logical demonstrations, however crystalline and pronounced by a strictly Neo-Thomist professor of dogmatics, are not enough. Today, in a “liquid” and de-Christianized society, they are not enough, but in the final analysis they were not enough two hundred or two thousand years ago. The dynamic that emerges from the Gospels is in fact something else.
“Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea – Benedict XVI wrote at the beginning of the encyclical Deus caritas est – but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction”. Christianity, he had specified in the funeral homily for Don Luigi Giussani, “is not an intellectual system, a collection of dogmas, or moralism. Christianity is instead an encounter, a love story; it is an event”.
A final consideration, at last, about the “persecution” of which Livi claims to be victim: “It is going from worse to worse; and this persecution is justified by certain imprudent statements of the current Pope. All those who are faithful to doctrine, to canon law, and want the certainties of faith not to be set aside, are openly accused of heresy”.
Apart from the fact that it is only Livi who accuses others of heresy, perhaps greater caution in the words to be used would be desirable: at a time when many Christians are suffering and are truly persecuted and often killed in hatred of the faith, talking about “persecution” because some bookshops refuse to showcase your magazines sounds a bit excessive.